ACX?

If you have a search on the web for ‘create a damn audiobook’, you will inevitably stumble across ACX, Amazon’s Audiobook Creation eXchange. You read up on how it all works.

Looks like it functions as a collective of authors, narrators and producers, ready to put together a bunch of audiobooks. More than this, there are options, man, options! I’m a fan of options. Not too many, because then you get overwhelmed, but I like to be able to choose what suits me.

As a narrator, for example, you can sign yourself up and get a gig doing the reading side of things. As an author, you can put your book up to be read. Sounds pretty good so far. But what if, as an author, I want to narrate it myself? Sure thing, that’s fine, too.

Great. Let’s go with this. How does the royalty side of things work? Well, there are three options – either pay outright for a narrator to read my book, share the royalties of the book with the narrator, or do it myself. Easy.

I like the idea that I can collaborate with someone to do the narrating. Some of my larger books, see, would be a struggle for me, so I wouldn’t mind sharing the royalties at all. It’s one of those win-win situations.

So I go through the motions, sign up, look at the different options, figure out how I’m going to do it, and there’s a decent page on how to encode the sound files. There’s also the necessary part of reading out the title and author and narrator (they’re very particular about this) and the closing statement (must contain ‘The End’) and things like that. All good, I can handle this just fine.

I’ve gone over my files, encoded them properly, made them mono rather than stereo, checked the size, formats, added the top and tail, checked the amplification… all the chapters there? Yup. All sound right? Yup. What about the credits? Yup. It’s all looking good. Then… disaster.

In one of the little forms I need to fill in, I select from a drop-down that I’m from Australia. Uh, why is there a red box showing? What does that say? Oh, wow, really? ‘Unfortunately, at this time, ACX is only servicing citizens of the UK and the USA.’

I live in neither.

There I was, dangling high and dry like an octopus on a clothesline, wondering if I’d just blown all that work for nothing. All the building of the booth and the microphone and the mistakes and blunders, was it all for nought?

“No,” I think, “That’s ridiculous. There has to be another way.” Another way… Can I find another way?

Funnily enough, I did. And it’s called ‘Findaway‘.

My US? No thanks.

A quick update on the whole ‘getting things from Amazon US into Australia because I can’t buy my own book to check if it’s actually properly configured’ thing.

I don’t remember just how much of the story I’ve gotten through, but from my hazy memory, the last point I was at was somewhere around making the purchase.

As a recap, KDP allows the author to purchase ‘author copies’ of their books – they aren’t for resale, but you can purchase them to make sure the end product is as you’d like. That’s kind of cool because, unlike Lulu, KDP doesn’t force you to buy it at retail. Instead it offers the author copy at cost price, which is an incentive to do the last, final check.

Anyways, I had issues where I couldn’t get the items from Amazon Australia because of something to do with the GST, so I purchased from Amazon US, and had the items shipped to MyUS, which is a US forwarding service based in Florida with all dem gators (And a I wish you all the best, Florida, for the impending storm!).

Well I waited. And waited. Then I got an email a few days later from Amazon saying that my payment was declined. Strange, but it’s not the first time. I tried a different card and waited and waited, then got another email saying the payment was declined. Weird. What’s going on? So I tried using PayPal but, nope, PayPal and Amazon don’t like each other, what with the whole online market rivalry thing between eBay and Amazon.

I also got another email from Amazon warning me that if I didn’t finalise the order, it would be dismissed from my cart and I’d have to start it all again. Bum.

SO I added another card and crossed my toes and fingers and nostrils (very tough job, that) and waited, and presto! It worked! My stuff was despatched. Alrighty, now that should be it, right?

Nup. The package eventually arrived at MyUS, and I got an email, but when I went to look for it, it wasn’t there. I had a number, it had tracking, but it wasn’t coming up in the list. More than this, the automatic payment (from PayPal) was apparently declined. Say what? Yup, once again, payment was declined. What was the payment, anyway? SOMEWHERE IN THE ORDER OF $100!

Are you serious? Really? How can it cost $100 to send 4kg from the US to AUS? Mumble, bloody grumble. Seriously, ok, fine, I’ve dipped my toes in the water, I may as well jump in and get eaten by the sharks. I tried again with PayPal, no dice. I tried once more, using a different card, still nothing.

I used their chat widget and spoke to some guy, ready to just say ‘keep the damn package, this is all just too hard.’ Well, I must save Ivan, the service guy, helped me out there, and he tried to do the payment and, again, no deal, because apparently PayPal had already sent the payment. Say what? Yup. Paypal had already made the payment.

So he escalated it to the developers or something and told me to wait a day. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Another day, another email, and it looks like payment has been taken, and MyUS has shipped on the order. Wait. Waiiiit. They’ve taken the payment twice. So now I’m nearly $200 in the hole and sick of the whole thing.

In the end, it took a week to get the payment refunded, about a day before the goods actually arrived. They arrived? Yes, yes they did. After an exhausting excursion into the world of logistics, I’m now a bit wiser and my wallet is a lot lighter.

I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.

You Asked For It

Adaptation began its life on my PDA. That’s right, I didn’t really have a means to write my story in bed like some kind of, oh, I don’t know, computer that could sit comfortably on my lap – maybe a lap-computer of sorts? – and I wasn’t keen on resting a typewriter on the blankets, and writing with a pen was out so I resorted to the only thing I could think of. A Personal Digital Assistant which had, as part of its software, a highly trimmed down version of Microsoft Word.

There was an on-screen keyboard, and a little two by three inch space for the text, which made writing possible, albeit difficult. I’d tap away on there, adding my paragraphs and hitting save, and in the morning I’d download the text onto my computer and repeat the process the next night.

Why am I telling you this? Because it leads into the reason I’m writing this post. You see, after a while, the PDA began to suffer. It couldn’t cope with the demand of me hitting the save button after a couple of paragraphs. The files were just too big for its little processing unit to cope with and, after around a hundred thousand odd words, it just got too damn slow.

So I broke up the manuscript into three pieces, Adaptation Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, three different files, that could be edited separately and hitting the save button wasn’t so bad (still bad, but not to the point of annoying). It also meant I could cut my teeth on the whole publishing process and bumble about without having to wait until the very end.

This is why Adaptation comes in parts. The size of the project was just too big for technical reasons and, as such, it had to be broken into smaller chunks, each of about 100k words. When it came to hard copies, the breaking-up helped a lot, too, because that way I could fit the books into standard title sizes.

Great, great. What’s that got to do with the price of jerky in Iceland? (About 600 isk a bag at the time of writing, which is almost $10, so there you go)

It’s because, as of now, you can get all the Adaptation parts in one compendium. It brings all the bits together into one big book.

Adaptation Front Cover

As you can see, it has the new front cover design, but without the ‘Part X’ bit. On the inside, you’ve got all the parts, together with their own chapters and dedications, comprising nearly 600k words.

Now that’s got to be a lot easier than having to manually grab all of the individual parts, right? As a bonus, the Adaptation compendium is cheaper than the sum of its parts.

This is now live at Smashwords, Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google, iTunes and all the other guys.

Shucks, thanks Amazon

Well shucks, thanks for that, Amazon. I finished making hard copies of Tedrick and putting together a compendium of Adaptation and felt pretty chuffed. Rather than going through Lulu, I decided to use KDP instead.

It’s a different experience, better in some ways, worse in others, but altogether things were looking up. Then I clicked on the option of ‘order proofs’ because, hey, I want to make sure the books print properly. It’s something that Lulu insists upon so that you, the creator, are satisfied with how your books come out in the physical world and I totally agree with it.

So I press the button and it tells me I’ve got 24 hours to check out my cart. Fine, but first let me add a couple of other proofs. Aside from a couple of weird issues, all good.
Then I go to check out. Houston, we have a problem. There’s a big, fat splash of red writing across the page (that’s never good) telling me that what I want isn’t possible. Why not?

What’s the issue?

It turns out that Amazon.com ain’t delivering to Australia no more. That’s right. I can’t purchase my own book. I mean… really?
Looking this up online answers my question: Really.
It seems that because Australia has the GST (A 10% tax on sales), purchases from overseas websites need to attract that tax. I’m not sure of all the politics behind it, but it seems to be something like a dummy-spit by Amazon.

“We don’t want to apply your taxes, so we’re not going sell anything to you unless you purchase from the Australian website.”
Great, but that doesn’t help me because the KDP proof doesn’t allow an Australian marketplace shipment, so I’m forced to use the American one. And around we go. So the tokens expired, I ordered it all again and this time sent it through a freight forwarding company, MyUS.com. The idea is that Amazon ships to them in Florida, then they ship it to me in Melbourne.

It looks legit. Only thing is that now delivery will necessarily take longer and cost more because there are now two shipments involved. Ah, well. So long as I can get the rotten things, I’ll be fine.

Still, I think the whole thing is a bit stupid from a buyer’s perspective – I am willing to pay money for available goods, but because of a spat between a corporation and a government, I have to go the hard way around, pay more and wait longer. What’s more, with Lulu, who also sell through Amazon, they seem to outsource the printing locally anyway, meaning I don’t have the book being sent from half way around the world.

Strange thing is that I just tested purchasing a gas tank from Amazon, and that seemed to be shippable from the US. So A petrol tank can be shipped, but books can’t? I don’t get it.

Even stranger, when looking at the page for Adaptation, it says it can be shipped to Australia, whereas Tedrick Gritswell cannot. Now I’m really confused.

If anyone has any insight, I’d be glad to hear it.

Tedrick Gritswell Makes Waves – On Preorder

This is getting exciting! Old Stumpy is up for preorder at Smashword, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes and Google books. You know, the usual spots.

If you’re thinking about getting into the world of Borobo, you might want to hit Smashwords up now and get Tedrick Gritswell of Borobo Reef for free! That’s right, you’ve only got a day or so left to grab a freebie and ride that octopus bandwagon.

Tedrick Gritswell Makes Waves

Here’s some links to your favourite book outlets:

What are you still doing here? Get going!

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

Me? Sleeping? Anything but. I understand where you’re coming from, though. I mean, it was yonks ago when I said I was cracking on with a sequel to Borobo Reef, right? That’s true, that’s true.

I’m still running with that, sitting somewhere around halfway done with the first based on a desired word count. Halfway. I’d love for it to be further along but stuff just gets in the way. Urgent stuff. Stuff that can’t wait.

For starters, I’ve designed, re-designed and then re-re-designed an electronic¬† solution. I confess I had to grab my old books off the shelf and do some scrambling to remember the differences between my PNPs and my NPNs and figure out how to do high-side switching. There have been many nights in the cold garage, hunched over a soldering iron, burning my fingers and breathing pungent fumes of flux, and even more nights drawing up schematics and placing components on a circuit board.

That’s not all. The Amazon AWS Summit was on up in Sydney. We like to keep our finger on the pulse of technology at OrderMate so up I went to see what I could see. It was a real eye opener, to say the least. The rate AI is progressing is nothing short of astounding and the demos and presentations given were inspiring. Almost as inspiring as the city of Sydney.

Along with all the travel and fiddling with resistors, I finally got to sink my teeth into custom graphical images on thermal dockets.

Hey, it’s a big deal, alright? Devs get excited by these things. Well, there’s that and a handful of larger enterprise developments that need development.

And craft. And videos. And learning how to box. And teaching Joey how to box, and play basketball, and draw, count, spell and read. Then there’s heading to the local school fetes and various birthday parties and helping out with homework and making scarecrows (I’ll post that soon, don’t worry), so there has been very little time left over to sit in front of a keyboard with a cup of tea and type.

That said, I’m working at getting myself back into a rhythm. Watch this space, I’m still moving, just spread too thin.

Tedrick released from KDP, and it’s Free until Jan 1st

The KDP thing was OK. Just OK. Wasn’t bad, wasn’t great. Well, that’s not entirely accurate.

The Good: with KDP I was graciously allowed to advertise with Kindle, and the readers of KDP Select could read the book freely.

The Bad: I couldn’t distribute the book under any of the other normal routes, like Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo or Google or, of course, Smashwords.

Which means I missed out on promotional periods like the Smashwords End of Year Sale.

Live and learn. Well, you know what? End of Year is today, and the sale is on until tomorrow, so I’ve added all my books as free AND, plus, also, to boot, Tedrick Gritswell is now available in Smashwords!

Head to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/773708

and get your copy in whatever format you’d like. Be sure to use the coupon code EY100 at the checkout.

Give it a few days and it’ll be up on iTunes and Google and the rest (not free, sorry).

Enjoy!

Portsmouth Avenue Released

You know, I think I’m going to make a new rule. When it comes to releasing titles, I’m going to deliberately hold off past Christmas. With the development-o-meter hitting a full scale deflection, the obligatory seasonal parties, obligations and preparations, and the viruses that hover about until you’re just on the edge of desperation before striking you down, there’s not a lot of time left for everything else that falls under the category of ‘not immediate’.

So it got to yesterday – at least I think it was yesterday – and I was asked, “Hey Jez, don’t you have a book coming out?”

Oh, crud. Right. That. When was that again? Between all the competing voices nagging and braying and screaming and screeching, there was a meek little squeak calling, “Jez, Jez. Don’t forget about me.”

Well I didn’t really forget as much as neglect. Sorry, little guy. It’s a bit pathetic, but here’s your launch. Ahem:

Hey, y’all. Portsmouth Avenue Ghost, Paranormology Part 5 is out on Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Google Play. And a bunch of other, independent distributors. I hope you enjoy it.

You can find the book’s links on this page, Portsmouth Avenue Ghost or you can go to the following:

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Google Play

Kobo

iTunes

It’s not on Lulu just yet, that’s taking a bit of time, but all electronic formats are supported.

Cheers!

Portsmouth Avenue up on Pre-release

Head-down-bum-up. That’s the story of the past year, and, for the past month, it has been head-downer-bum-even-more-upper. The pace only gets faster the closer one gets to finishing.

To tell you the truth, I’m knackered.

I’m stoked to see it up. I’m stoked to have hit the target I set for myself. I’m stoked that the hardest part is behind me.

Wait, you mean there’s more?

Well, yeah. There’s always more. Now that it’s Portsmouth Avenue Ghost is up for pre-release, I need to convert it and set it up on Amazon, and then convert it again (and the cover) to post to Lulu. In addition, I need to order a copy and ensure that it’s correct in my Kobo reader, do the ISBN, give it a final check and then repeat that for the Lulu side of things.

And then I need to adjust the Paranormology series page, image and make a post there, too, and update the links as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes receive the distribution.

It doesn’t end just because I’ve done the upload.

On top of that, I’m not 100% happy with the cover, so I’ll need to get some tweaking done before the release.

Still, it’s up. It’s up, and I’m going to have a break for a day to rezone. In the meantime, enjoy! You can find the book at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/760356

Cheers,

Jez.

Man, I hoped that worked…

I moved from wordpress.com to wordpress.org over the last few weeks. The transition wasn’t all that hairy, just took a while. What with all the other duties I must perform, I hardly had two minutes to rub together. There was the dump of the content, the files and settings, and the domain names and setting up the server.

In the end, though, it’s done. It means I’m paying my way but I’ll have more freedom over how the page looks and what plugins I get to use. On that note, if you are having trouble viewing jeztyr.com or jtyrrell.com, please drop me a line and let me know.

Also, I’ve tried my best to maintain the followers, but if you’ve dropped off somehow, I’ll do my best to sort it out.

Cool, Jez, so what’s cracking?

Admin time is over. Now it’s back to getting the books out and other fun stuff. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, the next release is “Portsmouth Avenue Ghost”, number five in the Paranormology series. I’ve finished the first draft and I’m looking to take to it with a razor.

After this, I’m tossing up whether to do a sequel to Tedrick Gritswell, or dust off some of my older projects and breathe some life into them

Speaking of Tedrick, my incarceration with Amazon is almost over, so I’m going to ditch the exclusivity crap and release Tedrick on Smashwords – and subsequently all the other book vendors.

One thing at a time, eh?

Portsmouth is looking to be released early to mid November. I’ll settle on an official date as soon as I can.